I recently saw a question online asking if Christians really believe Jesus came back from the dead. It was obvious that the question comes from the point of view that people don’t do that; come back to life that is. Jesus was a man, he died, and it seems unreasonable to think that he came back to life three days later. Maybe he was a wise teacher with many followers, maybe it is not crazy that we study his sermons and emulate his behavior but do we really believe he rose from the dead and appeared again alive to his disciples and others? Fasten your seatbelts.Continue reading
The first verse of Hebrews 11 is one I memorized many years ago in the King James Version. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The substance of things hoped for; the KJV was written to be read out loud and it’s poetic language, combined with rhythm and cadence, is the reason it is so often read today in public ceremonies and gatherings. In my case it’s what I grew up with so with many important passages of scriptures those are the words I know by heart.Continue reading
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The law is described as a shadow of things to come just as the setup and design of the tabernacle was patterned after the real holy places in which God dwells. The sacrifice must continually be offered and can never make those who draw near perfect. The very fact the offerings were repeated served as a reminder of sin because, as in Heb. 9, the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin. Treating a condition is not the same as a cure.Continue reading
Critics of the Creation Museum say that it presents a “pseudoscientific” young earth creationist view of the origins of the earth and universe “even though scientific evidence shows the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and the Universe about 13.8 billion years old.” I hate taking a side in this fight. My argument is that the age of the earth is one of the least important details one can hope to glean from a study of scripture (and in point of fact the Bible does not say how old the earth is).
I can empathize with Ken Ham’s motives for organizing Answers in Genesis and desiring to build a Creation Museum. As a science teacher in the 1970’s, Ham would take his students on field trips to places like museums of natural history. While there is much to learn about archeology and anthropology from such a museum visit, evolutionary processes and geologic time scales are accepted as fact without question. Ham moved from Australia to the United States where the population of conservative Christians is much higher and began Answers in Genesis in a small storefront office. The idea of a creationist museum was in the back of his mind for a long time. Continue reading
The actual title of the article published by the Pew Research Center is America’s Changing Religious Landscape. You can read that article here, at their own website, rather than second or third hand if you wish. The story was reported by media outlets, such as CNN, with attention grabbing headlines like “Millennials Are Leaving the Church in Droves.”
Russell Moore takes a different perspective, suggesting that actual faith is not in decline but rather the false pretense of it. People without true faith have quit going to church to make a show. He suggests people are no longer attracted to “almost Christianity” but that real faith is alive and well. There are not more atheists than there used to be, there are more honest atheists. Please do read his article here.
Ed Stetzer posted a similar story in USA Today, arguing that while Evangelicals make up a smaller percentage of the population than they did a few years ago their overall numbers have actually grown. While I think Moore’s article is better written, both make the point that raw data doesn’t tell the whole story. How we interpret that data is equally if not more important.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph,of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. –Luke 1:26-38 ESV
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. –Matthew 1:18-25
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” That’s actually a quote of Friedrich Nietzsche. I guess the bear thing is funny, but… the statement is unnecessary. The original quote creates two categories, things that kill you and things that don’t. Since bears will kill you there is no exception. There are plenty of things that will kill you but the encouragement for survivors is what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Continue reading
First, a word about society. Our culture at large has pretty low expectations for behavior. Honesty, morality, decency and work ethic are no longer expected from most people. Slipping in a few minutes late, taking home a few office supplies, riding the clock a few minutes here or there is what employers and co-workers expect as normal these days. People will do what they can get away with, at school, at work, at red lights without cameras, filing their income taxes, etc. I’m not talking about embezzling corporate funds, I’m talking about the “little things” that supposedly everybody does, from running errands in the company car to flirting with the waitress.
Hopefully Christians – I said hopefully – attempt to rise above falling expectations. Continue reading
One of my favorite texts during the Advent season is the Magnificat, and you will see it below. The Second Sunday of Advent is Faith, and lighting the Bethlehem Candle reminds us of the faith required of Joseph and Mary to make the journey. Matthew 1 describes Joesph’s encounter with an angel of the Lord, Luke 1 the same for Mary. In faith they acted according the to the angel’s words and so fulfilled many prophesies.
The first chapter of Luke also records Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, who is carrying the child we will come to know as John the Baptist. The Holy Spirit fills Elizabeth as Mary enters the house, and she declares Mary blessed above all women. Mary’s response is now well known as the Magnificat: Continue reading